If you love being around kids and are looking to make some extra cash, becoming a babysitter can be a great idea. However, whether you’re 12 or 24, you’ll be a better babysitter if you take the time to prepare for the role. To ensure the safety of the kids you watch and the success of your babysitting career, you should evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, get appropriate training and certifications, and make sure you line up gigs that suit you well.
EditEvaluating Your Interests and Readiness
Be honest with yourself about your maturity level and readiness. Babysitting may seem like “easy money,” especially if you have experience watching younger siblings at home. However, it is a real job that can have very real consequences if you’re not prepared or mature enough to handle it. Ask yourself questions like:
“Am I old enough?” — Most families will be uncomfortable hiring anyone under 11, and may in fact prefer babysitters who are 14 or older.
“Am I mature enough to watch kids by myself?” — You need to have focus, stamina, and emotional control to be able to successfully babysit kids. Even if you’re a young teen, you need to be able to be the adult in the room.
“Can I dedicate myself to the job?” — Babysitting takes a lot of time and energy, so make sure you can handle the stress and the time taken away from things like schoolwork.
Ask yourself how much you like, understand, and know about kids. This may seem silly, but ask yourself directly: “Do I like being around kids?” If you can’t answer with an enthusiastic “yes!” you should find another way to make some money—maybe by doing yardwork around the neighborhood.
Also ask yourself things like: “Can I change a diaper?”; “Do I know when kids start walking?”; “Do I know how to calm a child who bumps an elbow or scrapes a knee?” If your answers are “no,” seek advice from, and opportunities to observe and assist, friends and family with small children.
Decide whether you have other desirable qualities for a babysitter. Great babysitters all have their own individual skill sets, and different babysitting gigs call for different abilities. However, there are some general qualities that nearly all good babysitters have, including:
The ability to communicate with kids. Do you know how to speak simply, calmly, directly, and positively with a child?
Respect for differences. Are you comfortable around people who may have different lifestyles, belief systems, or economic backgrounds than yours?
A willingness to be a good role model. Can you be someone who kids will look up to and want to emulate?
Consider your willingness to make decisions and take action. As a babysitter, you must be willing and able to make quick decisions to ensure the safety and well-being of the kids you’re watching. Often, the kids won’t like it, but you must be able to do what is best for them. In fact, sometimes you must be willing to upset the parents in order to do the right thing.
For example, if you see signs of potential abuse—for instance, frequent, unexplained bruises; fear of physical contact or undressing; unsafe living conditions—you must be willing to act. You need to confide in an adult you trust and work with them to call a child abuse hotline or the police.
EditGetting Training and Certifications
Check on the laws, regulations, and required certifications where you live. In some places, there may be few restrictions on who can be a babysitter. In other places, you may need to complete specific training programs and be licensed by the appropriate government authority. Before you begin trying to get babysitting gigs, make sure you meet the requirements where you live.
There may, for instance, be age restrictions in your area that you don’t yet meet.
Ask other babysitters for information on regulations where you live. Also call or check the website of the health, human services, or similar department of your local government.
Take a babysitting training class from a well-regarded organization. Whether or not a training program certification is required where you live, you’ll find it much easier to get babysitting jobs if you are certified. Certification lets parents know that you’ve put in the time and effort to become a knowledgeable, professional babysitter.
Look for in-person or online certification programs from reputable organizations, such as (in the U.S.) the American Red Cross.
You must be at least 11 years old to take the Red Cross babysitting certification course. The course costs around $40-$50 USD.
Local colleges or universities might also offer certification programs.
Get First Aid and CPR certifications as well. In some cases, First Aid and CPR certification might be included within your babysitting certification. If they aren’t, it’s worth your time to get these certifications as well. Doing so will make you that much more prepared—and appealing to potential employers.
The American Red Cross, for instance, offers First Aid and CPR certifications in conjunction with babysitting certification, but they aren’t required. Red Cross First Aid and/or CPR courses cost in the $80-$100 USD range.
Keep a high-quality babysitting handbook as a valuable resource. You’ll probably be given a handbook as part a babysitting certification course. Keep this guide as a handy reference as you look for, and eventually take on, babysitting jobs.
The American Red Cross offers a 50-page emergency handbook for download at https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PDF_s/Health___Safety_Services/Training/Babysitting_Emergency_Reference_Guide.pdf.
Or, you can download the full American Red Cross babysitter training handbook at https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PHSS_UX_Content/Babysitters-Training-Handbook.pdf#.
EditFinding Babysitting Gigs
Start by working alongside family members or friends. Before taking on paid babysitting jobs, try helping out a family member or friend with childcare responsibilities. And, if possible, see if you can “tag along” with an established babysitter on one of their jobs. This way, you’ll get a feel for the responsibilities involved without yet being the person in charge.
Make sure you get the permission of the family before “tagging along” on a babysitting gig. If they’re willing to pay you a little, great. But expect it to be an unpaid volunteer experience.
Also keep in mind that you’re there to learn, not to hang out with your friend who happens to be a babysitter.
Determine your specialties, preferences, and limitations for babysitting. Some babysitters focus on watching kids, while others also care for pets, prepare meals, do some light cleaning, and so on. Figure out exactly what type of babysitting jobs you’d like to do by asking yourself questions like:
“What age range of children would I like to work with?” — For instance, are you comfortable working with infants?
“How many kids am I willing or able to care for at once?” — For a new babysitter, one kid can often seem like plenty!
“Am I willing to care for pets as well?” — If so, just cats and dogs, or more exotic pets like birds or reptiles?
“How far am I willing to travel to babysit?” — How are you going to get to your gigs, and how much will it cost you in time and/or money? If you don’t drive yet, you may need to rely on a parent or someone else to get you to your jobs.
“How late can I work, and which days of the week can I work?” — You might want to limit yourself to weekends and no later than 11 pm, for example. If you’re a teen, this is also something you’ll need to work out with your parents.
Create a babysitting resume. A babysitting resume can be a simplified version of a full career resume, and usually only needs to be a single page long. List your contact information at the top, then categories like “Education,” “Certifications,” and “Experience.” Print out a copy of the resume to bring to each interview you do.
Under “Experience,” list some quick details (age and number of children, hours/days watched, etc.) for previous babysitting jobs. If this is your first resume and you haven’t worked any solo gigs yet, describe your experiences watching siblings or cousins, helping out another babysitter, and so on.
Check out the sample babysitting resume on page 18 of https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PHSS_UX_Content/Babysitters-Training-Handbook.pdf#.
Use word-of-mouth to identify potential babysitting gigs. Rely on your network of family friends, neighbors, your parents’ work colleagues, and other people who already know you to get your first babysitting jobs. If you need some help finding leads, talk to older siblings or their friends who are babysitters.
Especially if you’re a pre-teen or teen, you should not try to advertise your services online or by posting flyers around town. It can be unsafe to share your address and/or contact information publicly.
If you’re 18 or older, you might consider signing up for one or more of the several websites that help connect babysitters with jobs; for instance (in the U.S.), https://www.sittercity.com/babysitters or https://www.care.com/babysitters.
EditInterviewing with a Family
Be polite, friendly, prepared, and on-time. All parents want their children to be watched by a babysitter who is trustworthy, mature, and reliable. So, when you have the opportunity to interview with a potential employer, put your best foot forward by arriving on-time and ready to chat.
It’s fine to dress in age-appropriate clothes, but make sure they’re clean and relatively modest. You want to look a little mature for your age, but not like you’re trying to pretend you’re an adult already (unless you are one!).
Show some enthusiasm for the job by being friendly and engaging. If you’re nervous, take a few deep breaths before knocking on the door.
Ask specific questions and get specific answers. A babysitting interview should definitely be a two-way interview. That is to say, you should also be asking questions, not just answering them. Make sure this opportunity and this family is right for you by asking things like:
“Will you always be back by 10 pm, or would I be expected to work past that sometimes?”
“Would I be giving the children baths and putting them to bed?”
“Would I need to feed, watch, and let out the dog as well?”
“Are there foods or snacks that are off-limits for your kids?”
“Is your youngest child fully potty-trained yet?”
Negotiate your pay rate before accepting the job. The average pay rate for babysitters in the U.S. is around $15 USD per hour, but this can vary widely by location. Ask other babysitters in your area how much they charge per hour. Use this information to determine how much you want to charge, as well as the minimum amount you’re willing to accept for the gig.
If you have to travel a fair distance to get to the job, factor in things like travel expenses as well. You might want to ask for $5-$10 per shift for fuel, for example.
If you’re new to babysitting, expect to start at a lower rate than experienced babysitters. After you prove your reliability, you can ask for a raise.
Confirm the key details on hours, payment, and emergencies. You may want to get these key details in writing—at the very least, make sure you and the parents are completely clear and in agreement on them. You might want to ask them directly: “So, I’ll work every Friday and Saturday from 6-10 pm and not later, you’ll pay me $15 per hour in cash each night, and I can reach you at any time at 555-555-5555. Is that right?”
Make sure they provide you with a backup number (for a relative, neighbor, etc.) if they can’t be reached for some reason, and clarify when it would be appropriate for you to call emergency services.
Spend time with the kids and observe the family at home. During or right after the interview, ask if you can meet the kids and spend a little bit of time with them. Even better, ask if you can drop by for a couple hours sometime and observe the family in action at home. Doing so will help you get a good impression of the kids and the expectations the parents have for their care.
Not all kids and families are going to be the best match for you. If the kids seem like they’re more than you can handle, or if the parents seem too demanding (or even not demanding enough), consider looking for another gig.
Be self-confident. Carry yourself with self-assurance, smile, and be sure of your decisions to show that you’re mature and independent.
Show good manners to the kids and the parents. This includes being respectful of a family’s privacy by not going through closets and personal possessions.
Make sure you know what to do when there’s an emergency. Don’t freeze up.
Prepare for a Babysitting Job
Entertain Kids When You Are Babysitting
EditSources and Citations
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